-By Williams Ifidon
In today’s world, the stakes of being truthful and conscientious in governance are high. “To everything, there is a season”, proclaims the book of Ecclesiastes. Using that biblical verse as a prism, the 2008 world global recess, if not quite a scriptural vision, was a poetic imperative.
History often emerges only in retrospect. Events become significant only when looked backed on. No one could have predicted that the change revolution would be in Edo State when the good people of Edo state voted en masse for Adams Oshiomhole in 2007. Following the electoral victory in 2008, the Comrade Governor took office on November 12, 2008.
Edo state was a potentially great state that had been abducted and held hostage by the powers that be – both at the state and at the federal level. But these men of old had no clear knowledge of how democracy worked; they lacked the ethos and the political will to help meet the yearning and aspirations of the people.
They could not cotton to the democratic notion, although that form of society had enabled them to become wealthy; they concluded that their accumulation of money gave them a greater stake in society than the common man. After looting our commonwealth, they used their money and influence to subvert the democratic will of the people, steadily turning it into a plutocracy – a dictatorship of money where possession of currency mattered more than merit.
Within the seeds of freedom that the democracy plant begets lay the spores of weeds that seek to choke that very freedom. Those who prosper illegitimately from democracy come to see democracy as a shackle of false equity that chains them to lesser humans. They think their greater riches bequeath to them greater wisdom in all things. They use the money gained through democracy to buy democracy then eagerly bury what they bought.
No sooner had the comrade governor assumed the mantle of leadership than the global economic recession set in. The dwindling fall in crude oil, which Nigeria derived her major source of income from, became a major drawback, and then the monthly federal allocation that was accrued to Edo state dropped drastically. But for the sake of the long-suffering Edo people, the comrade Governor Adams Oshiomhole resolved not to lament, but confronted the behemoth head-on.
Adams Oshiomhole knew that the only way he could retain the confidence of the people was to toil relentlessly for them by cutting down on waste and ploughing more money into capital projects. To actualise the massive infrastructure development that his administration set out to accomplish, he had to bring in some vastly experienced men who had created a niche in their chosen field of endeavor. One of those key men is Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, Edo-born financial expert and renowned technocrat.
In 2009, Adams Oshiomhole appointed Godwin Obaseki as the Chairman – Economy & Strategy Team. Tough, indefatigable, knowledgeable and of superior political instinct, loyal team player, Finds opportunities in crises and challenges, Skilled global financial expert with a lovely disposition are my job description for the man who has been destined by God to occupy the exalted position at Osadebey avenue, fortunately, the job has been filled for the past 7 years plus by someone who has all those qualities.
Here is a curious fact: despite the dwindling fall in oil price which had become a serious nightmare to other states as the monthly federal allocation kept declining, Godwin Obaseki through a combination of hard work and good timing managed to harness his team to a dramatic plan for dealing with the comatose state left by the previous administration (PDP). He brought an ugly issue out of the foggy realm of think-tanks and blue ribbon panels and dropped it into the middle for the governor and members of the EXCO for approval.
If the September gubernatorial election turns out to be a clear choice between very different answers to a genuinely important question;– Godwin Obaseki has answers and solutions to them all. Godwin Obaseki success story speaks volume of him, having worked in the private sector for over 30 years and 7 years plus with Edo state government.
Vividly recall Mr. Nidu Inneh as saying, Godwin Obaseki is a remarkable gem – extremely bright, intellectually curious and honest, with a huge appetite for economic data and economic theory. He reads everything and his able to convert it into language that the rest of us can understand. The points of agreement are worth nothing even if the politicians won’t do it. Godwin Obaseki’s dramatic proposal would not have gained any attraction if it did not address a widely acknowledged problem.
Key achievements as chairman of the Economic Team of Edo State government include:
1. Documentation of State Economic Development Framework through sectors, strategy, planning which is rewarded and updated on on-going basis.
2. Introduction and enculturation of retreat as platform to ensure all parties engagement not only in planning and executing state development initiative but also in monitoring and evaluation of outcomes.
3. N25 billion Naira infrastructural development bond from the capital market in 2010 and 225 billion concessionary rate. Development loan from the World Bank with the first tranche of 75 million already accessed successfully hosted sector-based economic summit and policy dialogue series including the power round table 2010/2011. An Educational Roundtable and the 2012 Agro-Business Roundtable were also hosted. These summits have translated in measurable outcomes, including:
i. Azura-Edo IPP Project with over $1 billion in FDI currently under development in Ihovbor, Uhunmwode Local Government area of Edo State.
ii. Educational reforms should have translated to significant improvement in educational infrastructural and student performance in WAEC and other exams.
iii. Following the 2012 agro summit, the state has attracted investment in the rubber sub-sector for the development of the single largest rubber plantation project in Nigeria in Sokponba in Orionmwon LGA under a privately developed and financial initiative.
iiii. A framework for local economic empowerment throughout growers schemes is being finalized to attract finding state has natural endowment including oil palm, rubber, cassava, cocoa, rice and other grains.
Other committee activities in Edo State government:
1. Tax Assessment Review Committee for Edo State Internal revenue Service (TARC) Chairman
2. Committee on Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) – Chairman
3. Committee on the implementation of the Law establishing the Edo State University of Science and Technology Uzaire- Secretary
4. Committee on contributory pension scheme- member
5. Edo SEEFOR/DPO steering committee- member
6. Committee on the Report of the Audit of the credentials of teaching staff in public schools in Edo State.
7. State steering committee on the European Union Assisted Niger-Delta Support Program (NDSP) Component 3 (Development of Edo State Water and sanitation policy and law.
Professionally, Godwin Obaseki has served on the presidential committee on the Reform of the Nigerian pension system. He also served on the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission Committee on the reactivation of the Nigerian Bond Market and the review of the investment and securities Act. He served as a member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Council between 2006 and 2009. Obaseki was the founding secretary of New York based US Africa Chamber of Commerce in 1992, which promoted US organizations doing business in Africa. He was a director in Junior Achievement of Nigeria- the local Affiliate of the worldwide not for profit organization which trains students to appreciate market economy values.
The Edo born Technocrat attended the university of Ibadan where he obtained a BA in classics. He proceeded to the Columbia University and Pace University in New York and has an MBA in Finance and International Business. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Stock brokers, Nigeria and an alumnus of the Lagos Business School Chief Program.
In 2001, he was nominated a Global leader for tomorrow ( GLT ) by the World Economic Forum.
Godwin Obaseki began his career over 30 years ago and has established track records in investment Banking, Asset Management, Securities Trading and the Public sector both locally and internationally.
Godwin Obaseki founded Afrinvest in 1995 and today the firm is now a leading Investment Banking and Investment Management firm in Nigeria pioneering major innovations and providing leadership in Nigeria security markets.
Obaseki is presently the chairman of the board of Directors of the Firm which won the best Asset Management Firm in Nigeria (2014) Award by the Wealth and Finance International Magazine Finance Awards.
Godwin Obaseki is so passionate about making Edo State an investment haven. He has developed for first time, a long range comprehensive agricultural model to create thousands of jobs for the youths through private sector collaboration and skills acquisition and transfer scheme.
The previous party, the PDP had left a huge deficit in infrastructure and the major priority Adams Oshiomole was faced with was to attend to the infrastructural decay so that government could woo investors to the state to invest.
The reality on ground is that Edo State needs to sustain the developmental strides that has been achieved by the Comrade Governor and Edo people must look beyond and key into Godwin Obaseki vision for a more productive and industrial state which are amongst his top priorities. The truth is that amongst all the aspirants vying for the exalted position, Godwin Obaseki stands out as the best man to take Edo state to the next level and with an enrich slogan ” Edo Let’s GO Further Together ” shows he his fully prepared for the task ahead.
Williams Ifidon, a public affairs analyst, writes from Benin.